‘Best offense is defense against ISIS' – Nobel Peace Prize nominee

People leave the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. © Francois Lenoir
‘We’re at war’ with IS, and to get out of it, the West should use its military defensively to protect threatened areas as the previous strategy of brutality has only generated more extremists, said Prof. Johan Galtung, of the International Peace Research Institute.

RT: The suspect being sought for the Brussels airport bombing is reportedly linked to the Paris attackers. What's the likelihood that there's a single terror cell in operation?

Johan Galtung: We’re talking not about a terrorist act, not fundamentalism, not extremism; we are talking about a war. That war was started by the West, and in a certain sense it stared back in 1916 with the Sykes–Picot Agreement that led to two English colonies: Palestine and Iraq; and two French colonies - Lebanon and Syria. Some of the fighting is in that area. They want to liberate Iraq and Syria.

But that is only a part of it, because in 1924-1925, the Caliphate collapsed to a large extent due to Western action, and they want to recreate the Caliphate. Ultimately, the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is aiming for something quite ambitious. I think they are aiming to be the custodians of the two mosques in Mecca and Medina.

We are in no way talking about some action just up in Iraq and Syria and some revenge against Brussels. My thinking would be that it is the Brussels of NATO they attack, more than Brussels of the EU. Although the IS is their EU.

RT: Why do you think it is so difficult for European security services to catch those responsible for the attacks and get a hold of terrorist networks that appear in Europe at the moment?

JG: Well, it is shocking… We should pay attention to the fact that IS itself claimed responsibility. And through NATO there is not a slightest doubt that most European countries have been participating with the US, bombing, killing Muslims and attacking Islamic states. 

We are in a war, let us face it. And the question is: how do we get out of it? The general rule is that if you kill one soldier of IS - and they have been killing a lot recently -you get ten the day after that because of the very, very solid networks they have, and some of them will be in European countries.

That doesn’t seem to me to be a very good response. I think a much better response would be for the West to use its impressive military machine defensively to protect the threatened spaces threatened by the extreme brutality of IS. They are brutal like the West has been brutal. They are brutal on the ground; the West has been brutal particularly from the air, enormously brutal – much, much more that IS in anyway. But of course IS hits the West, so the West certainly has the right to be concerned.  

In other words, use the military, parachuting down, create a circle around threatened spaces, protect them, but do it defensively, not offensively. Do it offensively - and you will strengthen the IS.

RT: How do you tackle the problem that appears to be in Europe at the moment, and the threats of more bombs?

JG: That is the question of how you think about it. Being a European myself, I think by and large people are thinking about it in a wrong way... I am afraid I have to add they are thinking about it the US’ way. For instance, today we could hear from European circles that they [ISIS] were attacking Brussels because they hate democracy and the free world. It is not because they are against our democracy, it is because we have been bombing them, and have been destroying their pride, it was their Caliphate. And they want to recreate that.

They want an IS; we have the EU, which is a Christian humanist state. They are imitating it a certain way… Now imagine somebody has attacked Vatican and after that started systematically bombing one catholic country after another. What kind of reactions would we have? We would have had something similar to what is going on now. So those are shadows of history, not very long in this case…

RT: That is a very different take to what many people are hearing from the leaders of the West at the moment. Still many ordinary Europeans feel threatened by what is happening and they believe that their governments should do more to protect them against terrorism. You think there is nothing authorities can do, don’t you?

JG: I have said something very practical: defensive defense can be started tomorrow. No problem about it. You need a number of parachutes for soldiers and arms, and encircle the threatened places. They haven’t done it and many of those places that have been destroyed. Instead they have increased a number of Islamic soldiers by killing. They are counting the fallen, the dead… But they are not counting the recruits they are making.

If European countries want this to become worse, just continue with the policy you have. If you want to change something, change it. I think it also applies to Russia incidentally. But the major Russian concern is to keep the base, the only base that Russia really has outside the old Soviet Union. I suppose [there are up] to 800 or so US bases.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.